Wednesday, September 24, 2008
In 1995, Obama notified the world that he'd tie himself to extremists like Bill Ayers
In part because I was a college classmate and friend of its originator, I try to resist falling prey to Godwin's Law in my blogging. But I can't help wondering if someday, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance will be considered as prophetic as a certain other book written in the late 1920s by a certain other struggling and ultimately transformative politician.
My newest guest-post at HughHewitt.com quotes a couple of paragraphs from Obama's 1995 book which practically shouted at us a warning that Obama would find a literal bomb-thrower like Bill Ayers with whom to associate himself. And of course, he did.
[Copied here for archival purposes on November 5, 2008, from the post linked above at HughHewitt.com.]
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
Stanley Kurtz' most recent reporting on the connections between Sen. Barack Obama and unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers — Founding Brothers: What's Behind Obama's Early Rise? —leaves no doubt that the candidate, his campaign spinners, and their allies have systematically, and largely successfully, concealed the astonishing depth and breadth of those connections.
But long before Obama and his handlers had finalized their "just a guy from my neighborhood" meme with regard to Ayers, Obama himself made the mistake of being candid about the carefully calculated preferences for forming associations which he'd chosen as a young adult.
In the first of his two autobiographies, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance (published in 1995), Obama vividly described the crowd he deliberately chose to "hang with" as a student at Occidental College in Los Angeles — and reveals exactly why he chose them (italics mine):
To avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I chose my friends carefully. The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets. We smoked cigarettes and wore leather jackets. At night, in the dorms, we discussed neocolonialism, Franz Fanon, Eurocentrism, and patriarchy. When we ground out our cigarettes in the hallway carpet or set our setereos so loud that the walls began to shake, we were resisting bourgeois society's stifling constraints. We weren't indifferent or careless or insecure. We were alienated.
But this strategy alone couldn't provide the distance I wanted, from Joyce [a former girlfriend] or my past. After all, there were thousands of so-called campus radicals, most of them white and tenured and happily tolerated. No, it remained necessary to prove which side you were on, to show your loyalty to the black masses, to strike out and name names.
Now, that's at pages 100-101 — and Obama went on for another 340 pages of carefully styled and painfully self-aware prose to describe his further journeys of self-discovery. When did the journey stop? It certainly hadn't by the trip to Kenya with which Obama's first book ends, and there's good reason to believe it's still on-going today — which led to one of Gov. Palin's best one-liners in her Veep-nomination acceptance speech, impliedly comparing Obama to McCain: "My fellow citizens, the American presidency is not supposed to be a journey of 'personal discovery.'"
But with respect to the paragraphs I've quoted just above from Obama's book, I'm unaware of Obama having ever renounced this conscious "strategy" by which, in his own words, he's "chose[n his] friends carefully" even going back to his college days.
Thus, Obama practically shouted a warning to America and the world in 1995 that he'd deliberately find, and choose as his friends, associates, and allies, people who were not just "so-called radicals" from among the "white and tenured and happily tolerated." No, to "avoid being mistaken for a sell-out," to achieve the "distance" he wanted, to show his "solidarity," he'd find someone who'd thrown more than metaphorical, verbal bombs.
Reading these two paragraphs, one cannot be at all surprised to learn that almost immediately after the publication of his first book, Obama eagerly entwined himself with Bill Ayers.
Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to In 1995, Obama notified the world that he'd tie himself to extremists like Bill Ayers and sent a trackback ping are listed here:
I'm more inclined to think his relationship with Ayers began much earlier. 1988, perhaps?
(2) A.W. made the following comment | Sep 25, 2008 9:11:48 AM | Permalink
Mmm, i think it is a tactical mistake to make the hitler reference. Now let me be very clear on that point; I ain't saying its an invalid comparison or unfair or whatever, just that its a tactical mistake because it risks alienating people who otherwise might be persuaded. The problem is that the link is on too much of a metaphorical level. I mean I don’t think you would call Ayers Hitler, or more precisely Obama Hitler for associating with him. America has never produced an evil as profound as Hitler, although I would say that Nathan Bedford Forrest (first leader of the Klan) comes fairly close.
So I read this as higher level comparison of "words to deed" and i get that. And it is a valid point. But too many people think that any and all references to Hitler is out of bounds. The most surreal example was in the 2004 elections when the RNC was denounced for "mentioning Hitler" in an ad that criticized democrats for comparing bush to Hitler. That’s right you can’t even mention Hitler to denounce mentioning Hitler. The mind boggles. So yes, it is beyond all rationality in some camps, but that is the reality you are dealing with.
Now it is valid to say the Hitler reference is used way too often, especially in the last 8 years in reference to bush and republicans in general. The Godwin rule is in part a reaction to that, but it can be taken too far, as I illustrate above. I was stunned for example to hear people to claim it is unfair to compare iran’s current president to Hitler. Yeah, he says he will kill millions of Jews while trying to get the means to do so. (Other favorite clueless response to the iran threat: he would never nuke Israel. Israel has so many nukes that this would be suicide! You know, on September 10, 2001 I might have been persuaded that no one is crazy enough to attack when it was suicidal. Now, not so much.)
But I digress...
I think your point is much more powerful and persuasive if you just say "here's what he said he did and what do you know, his conduct was in line with those stated intentions. He said he sought out radicals, and he actually was associated with a radical of radicals. end of story." The hitler reference can only take away from that central argument.
By the way, all this Hitler stuff reminds me of something Dennis Miller used to say before the Iraq war (paraphrase): “According to the left Bush is Hitler, Cheney is Hitler, Rumsfeld... Everyone is Hitler to them except for the dictator with the bad mustache and the mass graves.”
I guess with Saddam gone and Iran becoming a more serious threat, we could update that last line to: “Everyone is Hitler to them except for the dictator who dreams of killing millions of Jews.”
Admittedly the joke is funnier with the “mustache” part, but what can you do?
(3) A.W. made the following comment | Sep 25, 2008 12:27:20 PM | Permalink
Btw, not long ago, i was watching a documentary about these men who printed the english version of Mein Kampf. They could read german, and were pretty horrified about what they read, and when they saw the "official" english version, it edited out much of the really scary stuff. So they decided to publish the whole thing in english to warn their fellow americans. Hitler's lawyers literally used the copyright laws to sue them into the poor house, but they didn't regret a thing. It was fascinating.
The comments to this entry are closed.